Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Whale

August 11, 2014

“Sometimes, the Lord brings us down low, just to lift us higher.” –Joseph Smith

It was one of the lowest moments of my mission. I don’t know how long I had been out for, but the muscle relaxer and the exhaustion that my knee pain caused me were enough to send me into a deep, deep sleep.

It was Wednesday afternoon.  My flight for Tuesday had been changed to Friday, but we’d already moved out of our house, so we were staying with my companion´s new companions in another part of Pucallpa. I was asleep on a mattress in the corner of the room, and awoke to see five other sister missionaries staring at me (it’s weird that that is even possible now, since back in my day I had to get on a plane to see other sisters).  

It was kind of like that moment where the parent gets old and the kids have to take care of them. At one point I was their leader, now I was kind of like a lifeless body sleeping in the corner. One of them had sat on the mattress next to me.  “How are you feeling?” she asked me. I responded that I was just dandy and she started to tell me how awesome she thinks it is that I am going to finish my mission and that she never would have thought that I had been through so much since I am always so happy.  I lost it.  

I don’t know if it was the pills, the tiredness, or the sum of all that has happened over the last few months, but I lost it completely and burst into tears in front of so many sisters that had thought I was so
strong for so long.  I’d never felt so down, and I was embarrassed by my uncontrollable tears.

Friday came at last. Normally, when I leave an area I try to make a point not to look back, to just look forward and see what comes next. But this time, as I walked out toward the plane, I felt a strong
impression that I needed to look back. I took my eyes off the airplane in front of me and looked back into the airport. There, standing in the big window on the second floor, I saw a line of white shirts and
missionary tags.  The Zone Leaders.  Elder Turley. Elder Muñoz. Elder Lancaster. All had come all the way to the airport to say goodbye to me. I smiled and waved back. Oh, how I would miss them!

On the plane, I noticed that someone behind me was talking in a strange foreign language.  I tuned in a little closer to see if I could figure out what it was. ENGLISH. Wow. Peru has done things to my
brain. Anyway, I started listening to what he was saying. He was explaining the Bible story of Jonah and the Whale.  Jonah tried to run away from the island where he was called to preach, and he was
swallowed up by a big fish and spat out on the island once again.

I couldn’t help but laugh. I was Jonah, and the airplane was the big fish sent to find me, swallow me up, and spit me back out on the island where I had always belonged. Let’s face it, I was meant to be
in Iquitos. I was there for more than half my mission, escaped for almost two months, and now I was headed back, but what I would be doing there was a mystery.  

I prayed that the Lord would help me accept His will concerning where I would be and what I would be doing. Long story short, everything turned out great. Two sisters picked me up and I asked if they were my companions and they told me that they didn’t know anything, other than the fact that I would be sleeping in their house at times. We left my bags and they took me to the offices and the Assistants explained what was up.

I am assigned to the Offices during the day to help them with some projects for President.  I am
going to spend the last month of my mission travelling with them all over the Jungle to give trainings to the other missionaries.  I am also in charge of writing a new manual for Sister Training Leaders and
doing visits with Hermana Gomez.  It’s a lot of work, but I am really enjoying it!

It is kind of strange.  President called a meeting and I found myself alone with just him and the Assistants.  He looked at them and asked if it was weird for them to have a female in the office
and I said that it was at least weird for me and we all laughed.  It’s funny to me how the assistants keep coming up and asking me for help, or asking for my opinion.  They’re both from the States, so we form a funny Gringo Team and I’m sharpening up my English! (Maybe now it won’t seem like a strange foreign language.) We were working on getting the book I did but together and President came up behind us and asked if he could speak in English with us too.

My first day in the offices, I was praying to be able to feel comfort (I was still a little heartbroken about everything) and before I knew it I looked up to see Elder Avila, the one from Guatemala that was my
Zone Leader in Iquitos that had helped me so much.  He sat down and we talked for awhile and he smiled and said “You know what? It feels like you never even left!”  Elder Avila, Elder Belnap, Elder Muñoz, Hermana Ventura, and Hermana Allphin had kind of formed a team that helped me through my Anxiety and Depression and seeing any one of them always helps me a bunch.

I also had a great opportunity to serve as a Translator this week! A group of Medical Students from Michigan State was here doing a mission trip but could not understand the people they were attending.  We were waiting outside of the Hospital to go in and Elder Avila said “Here it
comes. 3..2..1…” and I heard a rather familiar scream and turned to see Hermana Price running at me.  I screamed, too. It’s been almost a year since we’ve seen each other.  We were put together as Translators and it was a blast.

Anyway, maybe I’m not out proselyting like I’d like to be, but I have been able to find a purpose here. I think I already mentioned once about how, months ago, Elder Avila and Elder Belnap taught me that we need to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands…but that doesn’t mean that we need to be a hammer just pounding and pounding and working and working all the time in the same thing.  He needs a specialized instrument that can serve a special purpose…and now I feel like I’ve found mine.

I don't blame Jonah. There have been times where I've wanted to run away as well. Maybe I've never done it physically, but mentally and emotionally...well, I might have done it a time or two. But, I know
that letting myself get "spit back" again and again has been really important in my personal growth and will help me keep figuring out just what tool I need to be :)

Love- Hermana Simonson 

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